Published on February 26th, 2014 | by octaneblue0
Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Developer(s): Nintendo EAD
System(s): Wii U eShop, Wii U
Release Date(s): September 20, 2013 (Wii U eShop), October 4, 2013 (Wii U disc release)
At its unveiling, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker shocked gamers for its cartoon-styled, cell-shaded look. However, upon its release in 2003, the game received widespread critical acclaim. In early 2013, Nintendo announced that The Wind Waker would receive a remake on the Wii U. This new version features high-definition graphics, GamePad support, Miiverse features, as well as new gameplay additions. Whether you’ve played through it already or are experiencing it for the first time, The Wind Waker HD is definitely worth checking out. Read on for the full review of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD!
On the GameCube, The Wind Waker was a very impressive-looking title for its time. But the Wii U version kicks it up a notch and improves the graphics to a 1080p HD resolution. The improvement is quite significant, and the characters and most of the environments are much brighter and bolder. The only downside graphically is that certain textures look about the same as they did on the GameCube, like the Forbidden Woods for example. But the game looks great overall and the game’s graphic style certainly wasn’t lost in the transition to HD. A few songs on the soundtrack have some slight changes, but if you were expecting a full overhaul of the music however, that’s absent. This might disappoint some because if the graphics received a big update, why not the soundtrack? But, for what its worth, the soundtrack is still as amazing as ever, and is at a higher quality than on the Gamecube.
Like most Zelda games, The Wind Waker features a mix of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat. The main part of The Wind Waker that sets it apart from its predecessors is the sailing aspect of the game. Instead of running around an overworld, traveling largely consists of sailing between islands – and there are lots of them in the game. Each one has some sort of purpose too. Some have a large town on them, others aren’t inhabited at all. Some islands are required to visit at some point in the game, while others are optional. As with other Zelda games, there are dungeons to explore, which include plenty of puzzles, enemies to fight, equipment to fight, and a boss to confront. While the dungeons in The Wind Waker are slightly less in number than other Zelda games, the ones found here are quite memorable, and are at the very least unique.
New equipment includes the Deku Leaf, which acts as a parachute or a gust of air for clearing out enemies or pushing objects around, and the grappling hook, which allows Link to swing across dark chasms or pools of lava. Equipment from prior games like the shield, bombs, and the boomerang return, some with some new features. For example, the boomerang can target multiple enemies or objects before it’s thrown. The combat in The Wind Waker is quite fun, with the targeting feature introduced in Ocarina of Time making a return. New to this game though is the ability to make quick counter attacks or dodges against certain enemies via a timed button press. This makes the fighting in the game more engaging than before. You can also pick up some of the weapons of other enemies and use them against them.
With the controls, you have the choice of using the GamePad or the Wii U Pro Controller. If you use the latter, the game controls similarly to how it did on the GameCube. But the GamePad provides some excellent conveniences to the game’s experience. Similarly to what was done with Ocarina of Time 3D on the 3DS, the GamePad provides seamless item swapping on the fly. You can swap between different screens on the GamePad, including your item pouch and map screen. Optional gyro controls are usable with the GamePad, and they usually work pretty well. However, during certain parts of the game, particularly ones that require Link’s movement while aiming with the gyro controls, are a bit awkward and usually require readjustment with positioning. If you don’t aim with gyro controls, you can use the right analog stick. This does clash with the use of certain items if they’re mapped to specific buttons. For example, if the boomerang is mapped to the Y button, holding it down while aiming and moving with the right analog stick requires some finger switching on the GamePad. But you can swap the button assignments for items so that you can move and aim properly.
The Wind Waker HD largely provides the same experience on the GameCube, but there are some noteworthy changes, most of which are very welcome improvements. One of the complaints about the original game is that it was somewhat slow-paced at times. Nintendo streamlined several portions of the game, and the results are welcome ones. Just to name a few, the text boxes load immediately now, conducting with the Wind Waker is much more convenient, and sailing is improved with the addition of the new, faster (and optional, for purists) sail. The infamous Triforce fetch quest that many feel is the weakest part of The Wind Waker has been slightly altered. It’s still one of the more boring parts of the game, but at the very least it’s improved somewhat. But no extra dungeons or anything of the sort have been added in place of the quest.
A regular playthrough of the game takes anywhere between 20-25 hours. But with the numerous side quests in the game, that amount is bumped up by several hours if one goes for 100% completion. A new Hero Mode has been added to the Wii U version; this mode is a more difficult version of the game that is perfect for those that have played the GameCube version several times over.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker may be over a decade old, but it’s certainly aged well and the game actually still feels like a modern title. With the numerous additions and improvements to a title that is already fantastic, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is the definitive version of the game. It’s highly recommended to those who have played it before or have yet to experience it.
+ Beautiful HD graphics
+ Helpful GamePad features
+ Same great gameplay with some nice improvements
– Some sections don’t appear to be HD
– Occasional awkward controls
Final Score: 4.75 out of 5